Nostalgia for the future

I was aiming too low with my project proposal so I had to work on my plan.

After I published my first blog post, I received some very useful comments from the Reinwardt internship coordinator, Mirjam Wijnands. She said she thought my project was not very original.
At the same time, I realized I was going to do something that was not new for me personally as well; I have done such projects before. So what was I going to learn from this one? Also I knew I wanted to do more with, or inside, the museum, instead of acting as an intermediary between museum and school, which is what I am already used to do.

Ownership

So I went to the Stadsmuseum with a new plan, or rather, with my original idea extended. I asked the director, Jouetta van der Ploeg, and the curator, Marjonne Kube, if the teenagers who participated in the project could get more ownership in the project; couldn’t they have a place of their own, inside the museum, to do with as they pleased?
And, although I came to know Jouetta and Marjonne as very open minded, I was surprised to find that they were immediately enthusiastic. During our talk they came up with the idea of making a room, as big as, and next to, the seventies period room which will be part of the new museum, for the teenagers to furnish and decorate with their own stuff.
We agreed that the museum would set up some basic rules but apart from that, nobody is going to interfere with what the young people will bring into ‘their’ room.

Seventies-bedroom-in-Philips-Museum-Eindhoven
Seventies bedroom in the Philips Museum in Eindhoven

Empty period room

That same evening I was writing a short outline of the project for the organisation that is developing the plan for the new museum: I was just in time with my proposal!
Our plan is to make an almost empty room: there will only be some flexible elements (‘furniture units’) like shelves that can be hung on the wall wherever one chooses, and some screens and room dividers. The kids will choose the furniture themselves – it is to be a bedroom, so a bed, closet, desk etc. and the museum will buy the necessary pieces. And then, everybody between the ages of 12 and 16 (or 18) can bring objects, posters, clothes, or give suggestions for videos or music for their room. Also, the kids will decide when an object has to go: anyone can put an object in the ‘bin’ and others can vote. When there are enough dislike votes, the object will be taken out of the room.
But those rules will be discussed with the first group of students who will participate in the project. They might have better ideas for the management of the process.

Next to the ‘00’s period room’, the kids will have their own place to chill; the idea is that they will come to the museum to have something to eat or drink, with a view of their period room, so they can talk about it and maybe get some new ideas for stuff to bring.

Seventies-table-in-Stedelijk-Museum-Zwolle
Seventies table in the Stedelijk Museum Zwolle

Introductory lessons

In September, I am going to do introductory lessons together with the ‘CKV’ teacher (culture and arts teacher) of one secondary school in Zoetermeer. We are going to prepare the first lesson together, because when the teacher appropriates the project, she might want to do it again, this year, with new classes, and, maybe, next year as well. In that way the 00’s period room will not become a static exhibition, but keep on changing together with the kids. The museum will document the process and the objects – in what way, we don’t know yet – and from time to time, decide that some object should be obtained for its own collection.

Next time I hope to tell you about our first lessons. Will the kids be (mildly) excited, bored, or…?


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